I just finished reading Simply Christian by NT Wright. It is a very, very good book. Tom (that is NT Wright's name) writes about what it means to be a Christian in our world today. Apparently it is sort of like Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. If you are looking for a good book read this one. A couple of the highlights.
Tom states that there are a couple of ways that we view God and the world. First is that God and the world are totally joined together - that they are one. This is pantheism. So prayer in this setting becomes discovering one's true self. In fact all spirituality in this view can become very me focused (because if everything is god then I am god.)
Second view is that God and the world are totally separated and distant. This is deism. Prayer in this setting is like talking to a distant God who may or may not hear and who may or may not respond. Also within this view the goal is to escape this wicked and corrupt world.
Tom states that these two views are not the Christian view. So there is a third view. That God is separate but close to the world. In fact there are places where heaven and earth interlock and overlap. Within this view the goal becomes the salvation of the world (pantheism says nothing is wrong and deism just wants to escape, let the world burn). Prayer is one of those places where heaven and earth interlock and overlap.
Often Tom shows how as Christians we have bought into either pantheism or deism.
I am going to finish off this entry with a final quote from Tom
"Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment. But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world. It is time, in the power of the Spirit, to take up our proper role, our fully human role, as agents, heralds, and stewards of the new that is dawning. That,quite simply, is what it means to be Christian: to follow Jesus Christ into the new world. God's new world, which he has thrown open before us." (Simply Christian)